“What the general public hears about — stolen credit card numbers, somebody hacked LinkedIn — that’s the tip of the iceberg, the unclassified stuff,” said Shawn Henry, former executive assistant director of the FBI in charge of the agency’s cyber division until leaving earlier this year. “I’ve been circling the iceberg in a submarine. This is the biggest vacuuming up of U.S. proprietary data that we’ve ever seen. It’s a machine.”
What started as assaults on military and defense contractors has widened into a rash of attacks from which no corporate entity is safe, say U.S. intelligence officials, who are raising the alarm in increasingly dire terms.
The networks of major oil companies have been harvested for seismic maps charting oil reserves; patent law firms for their clients’ trade secrets; and investment banks for market analysis that might impact the global ventures of state-owned companies, according to computer security experts who asked not to be named and declined to give more details.